'Serious, serious trouble' on the horizon as drought bites hard
Ensuring adequate water supply for livestock and planning forward to minimise the expected deficit in fodder supply for the winter are the key priorities now on drought-stricken farms, according to Teagasc.
"All animals need access to fresh clean water at all times and should never be left without water" in the heat-wave, advisors stressed as the Teagasc Farmer Clinic Roadshow was rolled out nationwide last week.
Early planning to buy in replacement winter feed, reducing stock numbers as soon as possible and arranging for "Bed and Breakfast" stock over the winter were some of the solutions discussed to cope with an expected huge deficit in winter fodder supplies on thousands of farms.
Twenty-seven clinics on coping with the drought are being held countrywide, and Teagasc has set up a help line - 087 797 1377 operating from 9am to 9pm each day - for farmers to speak to an advisor regarding options for feeding stock given the continuing decline in grass growth rates throughout the country.
At one of the first clinics at the GAA Complex in Ballyclough, near Mallow, Co Cork, Teagasc's Tim Doody warned of "serious, serious, trouble" as a consequence of inadequate fresh water for dairy cows .
There is a requirement for 2,700 gallons/day for a 100-cow herd - of which they will consume 50pc during the first three hours of the day - "and no animal can be restricted from water".
If concentrate feeding is introduced to compensate for loss of grass, water intake will increase further.
"If you check three hours after the cows go to grass and the water troughs are empty you are in trouble, because the supply is not adequate and you need a second trough - they are not getting enough water," he stressed.